New research has shown that sedentary workers who followed Zumba classes experienced long-lasting positive effects on health, especially on emotional well-being.
Led by researchers from the University of Granada (UGR), Spain, along with a team of international researchers from the National University of Chimborazo, Ecuador, the small pilot study looked at the effect of how a short exercise program based on popular Zumba classes could impact participants’ quality of life both short and medium-term.
Latin-inspired Zumba uses Latin American dance moves and alternating fast and slow rhythms to give a total-body workout combining cardio and resistance training.
For their research, the team recruited 60 inactive university workers, a group which has a typically high level of sedentary time due to eight-hour workdays which involve predominantly sedentary tasks.
With a sedentary lifestyle linked to a range of health problems, developing effective exercise interventions is important for improving health and overall quality of life.
Participants were asked to attend the physical exercise program three days a week over a five-week period. The one-hour classes were held at the end of the workday and taught by a certified ZIN Zumba fitness instructor and graduate in physical activity and sports science.
For the purposes of their research, the team considered quality of life as eight different and important dimensions: social, emotional, physical state, physical pain, physical functioning, vitality, mental health and general health.
At the end of the program, researchers found that taking part in Zumba classes had caused significant improvements in most of these quality of life dimensions.
Moreover, even two months after the program ended, the majority of participants still maintained levels higher than those recorded at the beginning for all eight dimensions.
The team also pointed out that of the eight dimensions, it was the emotional dimension that saw the biggest improvement, with the team finding that despite having one of the lowest values at the beginning of the program, it was the one with the highest values at the end.
The findings also support previous research which has demonstrated that exercise doesn’t just benefit our physical health.
Various studies have shown that regular exercise can help ward off depression in both adults and children, while a United States study published earlier this year showed that even just one exercise session could enhance mood, decrease stress levels, and improve executive function, which is the mental process that helps us achieve goals.
It has also been found that working out in a group could bring even bigger benefits, with another U.S. study finding that those who worked out in a group benefited from larger reductions in perceived stress levels, and improvements in mental, physical and emotional quality of life than those who worked out individually.
The results can be found published online in the Health Education Journal. JB